WhatsApp first found fame as a chatting app. It allows users to send text messages to anyone around the world. Later on, it introduced a voice call feature bringing it head to head with apps like Skype and Viber. This latest addition allows people to talk to each other from opposite sides of the world at no additional cost.
It was first released in January of 2009 and has since then grown to be the third most popular messaging app. As of 2018, there are over 1.5 billion WhatsApp users around the world. Most of them are from India and Brazil. It also has a large user base in Europe, particularly in the UK and France.
Despite its popularity, it’s far from perfect. Users have complained about suddenly getting disconnected or the app not working. In this post, we’re compiling some of the disadvantages of using WhatsApp international calls.
You Can’t Call Outside The App
This one is pretty obvious. You can’t make or receive calls on WhatsApp if you haven’t signed up for an account. It applies to the person you’re calling too.
Most people would not really view this as a problem since signing up for an account is quite easy. But for those with no access to smartphones or just abhors technology altogether, this would be an obstacle.
Think about this, there are more than 7 billion people in this world. With only 1.5 billion WhatsApp users, there are still around 5.5 billion people you can’t have calls with.
Internet Connection is NOT an Option
Since WhatsApp uses VoIP technology, internet connection is a must. So whether you connect to a wi-fi or not isn’t your choice to make.
WhatsApp even encourages its users to connect to wi-fi rather than rely on mobile data. That’s because a wi-fi signal is usually faster and more reliable than using the mobile internet. This ensures high-quality calls and that you’re not cut off mid-sentence.
Though internet connection may not be a problem for you, it may not be the case for others. In particular, the person you’re calling. See, the internet connection requirement is a two-way street. You, the caller, and the one receiving the call should both be connected to the internet.
Besides, when you’re on the road, there is no assurance of a stable internet connection. So if you’re a frequent traveler, you might want to find a cheap way to make international calls without relying on internet connection.
The need for internet connection also means that wi-fi calling with WhatsApp isn’t exactly free. You still have to pay for broadband or data charges. And sometimes, they tend to be more expensive than regular calls.
It’s Only Available On Limited Devices
Since its an app and you need the internet to make calls, not all devices can be used with WhatsApp. You can’t call from or make calls to landline and mobile numbers abroad.
This usually poses a concern when you’re calling businesses or institutions in other countries. Most would only give out landline or mobile numbers for contact. This means you’re gonna have to pay for expensive long-distance dialing. Unless you can find other alternatives to make cheap international calls.
WhatsApp also only supports devices with Android, iOS and Windows 8 or higher operating system. If you’re on Linux, Chromebook or Windows 7 and below, you might as well move on to other calling apps.
Phone Bill Shock
In 2017, a mom posted a blog about her international calling experience with WhatsApp.
She’s been using the app to make regular calls to India. One day, her phone bill arrived and she noticed a mysterious international call charge in it. Thinking that it might just have been a mistake, she called her network provider to void the charge.
The next month, it happened again. This time, it’s quite a large amount. When they called their service provider, that’s when they learned what’s really happening.
Apparently, WhatsApp is responsible for the international call charges. When you use the app to make calls, it uses an internet connection. But when the connection is really slow, the app automatically switches to “airtime minutes”. You get charged with the regular international calling rate which is often twice or three times higher than the usual rate. So instead of saving some bucks on your international calls, it only made it more expensive.
Can you make international calls for free?
Yes, there are a lot of apps that offer free international calls. But like WhatsApp, they too have their own disadvantages. (See: International Calling Apps Review and Comparison)
If making an international call for free is not possible for you at the moment, then how can you make cheap international calls?
Fortunately, there are ways for you to reduce your international call bill. Apps like MyLine offers international calls for as low as $0.001 per minute. You can also check with your local network provider if they offer international call packages. (See also: How Much Do International Call Packages Cost)
Thanks to its wide user base, WhatsApp has frequently been the target of cybercriminals. Although the app itself is secured, many have reported falling prey to a fake WhatsApp software that turns out to be malware.
Since Facebook acquired Whatsapp in 2014, more doubts were raised as to its security. A lot of people have accused Facebook of selling user data to third parties and allowing fake news to spread on its platform. The same security concerns had been hurled at WhatsApp in recent years. Thus signing up for a WhatsApp account makes you more vulnerable to these security risks too.
At the end of the day, it’s your choice to make. WhatsApp’s international call feature definitely makes communication easier. But just like most free services, there has to be a trade-off. Just make sure you’re not getting the shorter end of the stick.